Showing posts with label ida lupino. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ida lupino. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Out In The Be-Bop 1940s Night- Free, Ya, Free- High Sierra- A Film Review

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for the crime noir, High Sierra.

DVD Review

High Sierra, starring Humphrey Bogart, Ida Lupino, and, of course, Pard, directed by Raoul Walsh, Warner Brothers, 1941

Funny how a character, or performer, in one film will lead you to remember about or to investigate another. Recently I viewed and reviewed a film in which Ida Lupino starred, a kind of off-beat sweet fluff working-class thing in its way from 1942 entitled, Moontide, where she played alongside French actor, Jean Gabon, as down-at-the-heels hash-slinger seeking a little white house with a picket fence. In that role there was no question of her being a femme fatale-type that guys get all, well, nervous over but just a reliable dame when the deal goes down, good or bad. A rare thing in crime noir world, especially with dames. Here in the noir classic, High Sierra, Ms Lupino picks up some of the down-at-the heels aspects of that role of hash-slinger as she plays along side Humphrey Bogart as that reliable shoe good guys and bad guys both use for their own purposes

Of course at this stage of his career Bogart was the king hell actor getting choice roles as the grizzled whatever from Sam Spade in Maltese Falcon to Captain Morgan in To Have Or Have Not so his presence is the driving force of the film. Ms. Lupino is just along for the ride, and to pick up the pieces when the deal goes south. Here Bogart plays the three-time loser, Roy Earle, just out of prison and heading west to get some fresh air, and maybe a new start. A new start in his old racket, armed robbery, big-time armed robbery. Along the way west he is befriended by an Okie-type family heading to California just like the Joads before them. But Roy gets hung up on the young daughter, some lame Janie, and helps fund her operation to fix her foot. Naturally Janie is nothing but ungrateful and spoils Roy’s rehabilitation program. Needless to say, also along the way, brought along by one of the confederates, Marie, the role Ms. Lupino plays, is the smitten dish- rag gangster’s girl who stands by her man, although why with Roy the way he treats her is not apparent on the face of it.

As always in these crime noir adventures, in the end, crime doesn’t pay. In this case the big-time resort heist is fouled up by the inside man and Roy his confederates have to go on the run. Moreover Roy and Marie are forced to split up. Law enforcement keeps crowding Roy. One thing a three-time loser knows, knows deep in his bones, if he goes back to prison he ain’t coming out. That knowledge drives the suspense of the last part of the film as Earle’s world becomes smaller and smaller. And, as they say, it’s a dog’s world that does him in at the end. Ya, but he was free, free like the starry nights that he had time to dream about in his prison nights. And Marie? Who knows but that some other heel may need a reliable shoe.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Psycho Alley-Ida Lupino’s “Roadhouse”( 1948)-A Film Review

Psycho Alley-Ida Lupino’s “Roadhouse”( 1948)-A Film Review   

DVD Review

By Film Critic Sandy Salmon

Roadhouse, starring Ida Lupino, Cornel Wilde, Richard Widmark, 1948

There are a lot of whackos in the world, have been for a long time and are not some modern contrivance. Take the bad guy Jefty in this film under review, Roadhouse, a film released in 1948 long before Sir Alfred Hitchcock’s psycho Norman Bates made half of my growing up generation afraid to take showers without an armed guard in the bathroom. This Jefty, played by Richard Widmark who had recently had an Oscar nomination for his role as the sicko hitman gangster who you also would be in need armed guard, but everywhere, in Kiss Of Death so he was primed for the part, is kindred although no one from my parents’ generation would have needed an armed guard after viewing this production-although wise advise to stay far away from this guy was in order.

Here’s the play as my old friend Sam Lowell from this site now out to pasture as that feisty film critic emeritus would say. Jefty ran an aptly enough named roadhouse out in Podunk inherited from his father so he never had to spent much time working hard labor to get where he was-that fact if one checked with a psychiatrist would yield some interesting results. This roadhouse complete with bar, club, bowling alleys and who knows what else was going on in those little side rooms where lots of deep moans were often heard made Jefty the cat’s meow around town although he was nothing but a wanderlust playboy if left to his own devices. The real work, the heavy lifting, the day to day management of the operations was Pete, played by dashing Cornel Wilde, a 1940s heart throb according to my late mother, at least to her. But Jefty made it clear Pete was nothing but indispensable hired help.

On a trip to the Windy City, to Chi town, Jefty picked up Lily, played by doe-eyed Ida Lupino last seen in this space when Sam Lowell reviewed her as gangster Roy Earle’s doll in High Sierra uttering the word breakout when they finally wasted the guy out in the hills, a third-rate singer, maybe had been a B-girl, done a little off-hand whoring she never let on much except what she wanted anybody to know. That kind of dame. (These post-Code films for a long time left the professional attributes of women with a past rather vague by current standards.) A warbler, and as it turned out one with not much left of a voice but they was she dug down deep into some Johnny Mercer (One More For My Baby) and Cochran-Newman tunes it didn’t really matter whether she could hold the high white note or not. One of the characters in the film, Susie, Pete’s soon to be ex-girlfriend noted maybe enviously that she got a lot of mileage out of that ragtag voice and even Pete who initially was skeptical, saw her as just another one of Jefty’s wayward tramps, saw how she held an audience and brought in dough. A keeper.

But let’s back up to that Susie the soon to be ex-girlfriend statement because that will tell the tale. See Jefty’s idea in bringing Lily back from Chi town was to marry her, marry this dame unlike any other dame he had run around with. Problem, no, two problems. Lily obviously could care less about Jefty except as a high-end meal ticket. What would make that a problem was that Jefty did not like his well-laid plans to be busted up by a simple thing like a dame giving him the dust-off. Next, from the get-go, from about scene number one in the club while Lily was singing and Pete was watching with his tongue hung out you know that they will dance around each other, will be getting under the, unseen, silky sheets before long.

Jefty will definitely not like that scenario. And has the evil genius and half-crazed social pathology to screw things up. Simple, our boy Jefty framed Pete for grand larceny, for grabbing the daily take rather than putting it in the night deposit box. Yeah, get rid of Pete for say two to ten in the state pen and he was home free with the now free Lily. As an old corner used to say-nice moves. But remember this Jefty was a long gone daddy, had the weirdest psycho chuckle seen on screen until that time. He was going to bait the bait but good. He got Pete paroled to him, an outstanding citizen in many small town eyes so he could taunt Pete enough to maybe attempt to murder him and face the big step-off. Well you know as well as I do that if you play with fire like our man Jefty you are going to be burned and one of the characters in the end does kill the bastard. See the film to see which one. But also see it to see Ida Lupino hold your attention with her sad weary eyes and croaky voice despite yourself when she is at the cigarette scarred, hers, piano. Just like she did to me. Enough said.                             

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Out In The 1940s Crime Noir Night- Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino’s “High Sierra”- A Film Review

Out In The 1940s Crime Noir Night- Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino’s “High Sierra”- A Film Review

DVD Review

High Sierra, starring Humphrey Bogart, Ida Lupino, directed by Raoul Walsh, Warner Brothers, 1941

Okay, okay one more time- and this is for you, Roy “Mad Dog” Earle the “hero” of the film under review, High Sierra, crime does not pay. Some guys, some guys like brother Earle wind up learning that “hard knocks” lesson the hard way- lying face down at the bottom of some foreboding sierra canyon and no one , well, not no one, but hardly anyone to weep over their bones. And that, my friends, is the rough sketch lesson behind this classic Bogie gangster portrayal (and classic down-at-the heels dime-a-dance portrayal as faithful Marie, played by, well, an amazingly fetching Ida Lupino).

A little plot line is in order to show why, why, naw, skip that, we already have had our noses rubbed since childhood in the whys and why nots of crime doesn’t pay but why Brother Earle in the end took a bullet rather than be captured alive (even with his doll moll, Marie, ready to visit him every Sunday at some off the road prison locale).

See Earle is a three-time loser (or at least more than once) having been sprung from a full-book (okay, okay life) prison sentence (via an Indiana pardon) by an old-time gangster boss on his last legs. Apparently the talent pool of hard boys has dried up and an old pro that is not afraid to take heat and give some (without losing his head) is required for the caper the old don has in mind. A big jewelry heist in the Sierras (that’s in non-seaside California for the geography-challenged) at a watering hole for the well off. Easy stuff for Earle, as long as he keeps his head and the hired help don’t panic.

Now strictly as filler Roy, having had enough of the inside, and is planning to retire after he gets his cut from the heist. And for a while the film moves along with a little off-hand, oddball romance (no not Ida, not Ida yet). He befriends, on his road west, an old has-been farmer down on his uppers with a pretty crippled (oops, disabled) young granddaughter who he has ideas of marrying. Ya, I know, old Roy had been away for a while so maybe he is secretly skirt crazy, but this combination is strictly no go, no go on about seven counts, including that said granddaughter has enough sense to brush Roy the Boy off. Although not before Roy had sprung for a leg fixing operation. Roy, believe me, it never would have worked out. She would have run off with some Hollywood soda jerk or fast-talking garage mechanic and then where would you have been?

What works, and works like magic, is drop dead foxy, been around the block, been knocked around but is still taking the eight count, Marie. She had blew into town with a couple of what passed for hard boys in the hills of California night ( as boss man Big Mac said the talent ain’t like it used to be) and while they waste their time fighting over her favors she lights on our boy Roy. And after the granddaughter flame-out and some soft-soap sparring Marie wins the prize.

Naturally, yawn, the heist goes awry when some well-heeled dame screams and the bullets start to fly. And as the cops bear down through of series of narrower and narrower possibilities Roy is headed to that high sierra canyon, and death. No, Marie had it right. Like she had a lot of things right. He crashed out and was free, free as a three-time loser was ever going be.